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There are distressing signs of the Americanisation of public debate in Australia. Social security has been rebranded as “welfare” and hence transformed from a right to a charity, personal debt has been lauded, and renters have been stigmatised as being persons of less worth. A “market forces” ideology now dominates in the Australian housing sector, changing the purpose of housing stock from a place for raising families to a commodity for speculation. This has adversely impacted the universal right of access to safe and secure housing, which is enshrined in various United Nations declarations to which Australia is party.
Tony Abbott’s recent “closing the gap” speech has highlighted the importance of community organisations in helping young people achieve their best. The staff of Glebe Youth Services (GYS) have faced many difficulties over the past few months, but they’re now back in their building and ready to continue their role as an integral community organisation.
REDFERN: Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) has lodged a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman regarding Housing NSW’s ongoing failure to respond to the needs of their tenants. The complaint, lodged on July 22, highlights six case studies in which tenants repeatedly tried to communicate with Housing NSW with no response.
Residents of public housing estates in Redfern and Waterloo claim that inadequate waste management has led to feral animals in their garbage. Many Housing NSW estate tenants are reportedly suffering due to poor standards of cleanliness with respect to waste disposal areas and an ineffective garbage collection system.
At every tenant gathering across NSW the subject of Housing NSW’s failure to provide definitive and specific replies to correspondence arises. The records of NSW tenant groups and tenant councils stretching back to the 1970s show the same pattern of failure to respond. The question of lack of response, whenever put to the Housing Minister of the day, received the same outcome – no definitive and specific response. This situation is still happening on a daily basis despite oft given undertakings by Housing NSW to reform.
City making is everybody’s responsibility. It is a civic responsibility and not just the responsibility of the government, planners, architects, developers and builders. It is a civic responsibility because we all have to live in or with what is built in our neighbourhoods.
REDFERN: The Attorney-General Mark Dreyfuss visited Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) to announce $60,000 of untied federal funding at a time when the state government has cut funding to community legal centres across the state.
WATERLOO: Waterloo Recycling Workshop (WRW) is a sustainable business with a proven record of community service. Now in its sixth year, the team, led by Naomi Ward under the auspices of The Factory Community Centre in Raglan Street, comprises skilled volunteer carpenters and collectors, sales and support staff. Each Friday morning in the lower car park of the Turanga building, customers clamour for bargains – a picture frame, a vase or tablecloth, a restored table or bench seat, an antique set of drawers or freshly painted cupboard.
As people with higher and higher needs are allocated public housing in Redfern and Waterloo the need for integrated service delivery grows. It is necessary to ensure people have their complex needs addressed and can maintain their tenancies, and that they do not impact adversely on their neighbours.